Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What does the wastewater testing for drug use actually show?

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  • Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Some other data: a ranking of countries by past-year incidence of cannabis use.

    New Zealand is ranked ninth, just ahead of ... Greenland?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    N.B. Moa Point is the site of one of Wellington’s main sewage outfalls: those figures are just as likely to cover the CBD as anything happening in Miramar.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    it's not really a meaningful thing to report

    Yet brace yourself for most media leading with the angle that drugs are harm.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Yet brace yourself for most media leading with the angle that drugs are harm.

    They all pose some harm, but I think running it through our Drug Harm Index doesn't tell us anything very useful. It's more a way of justifying budgets.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Feedback from Know Your Stuff ...

    As suspected, no, Alpha-PVP is not a big issue. It was found in one of 445 samples in the 2017-18 season and was one of 29 cathinones detected. They found n-ethyl pentylone far more often.

    Their guess is that Alpha-PVP was the scary and newsworthy cathinone at the time the programme was set up. Things move fast in that world.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Shame that alcohol is metabolised into sugar and in turn stored as stomach fat, they'll have to rely on the official sales figures to work out how much is drunk, instead of sniffing about in people's poo.

    Almost like if we just regulated everything, we'd know how much was used. Hmm.

    Since Nov 2006 • 607 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Shame that alcohol is metabolised into sugar and in turn stored as stomach fat, they'll have to rely on the official sales figures to work out how much is drunk, instead of sniffing about in people's poo.

    Shame it was deliberately left out of the Drug Harm Index, along with tobacco.

    Almost like if we just regulated everything, we'd know how much was used. Hmm.

    Indeed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    Yes, media accuracy is often absent when it comes to drugs.

    Like the report in Stuff yesterday about the French tourists caught with a large amount of Cannabis in their car:

    "Police went to the scene and found the two men and 2.43kg of cannabis in one ounce bags.
    The estimated street value was between $40,000 and $50,000, Watt said."

    Which would mean a value of between $466 and $583 per ounce.
    .

    Pt Chev • Since Feb 2012 • 70 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Oh. Dear. From Martin van Beynen's report in The Press. Apparently 80% of New Zealanders are using meth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In really mindblowingly huge quantities, too, if taken literally.

    (“This is your news. This is your news on drugs. Any questions?”)

    There is, at least, a more accurate rendition two paragraphs up, though: i.e., the data covers a total of 80% of the population, and that subset has a total consumption of 16kg a week (which would imply a total national weekly consumption of ca. 20kg if the sample is representative).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Apparently 80% of New Zealanders are using meth.

    and they are bathing in it, at that quantity.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Francisco Blaha,

    "people hoovering up the last of their coke before getting on a plane"

    Mhh... not the best of the ideas... as anyone that flies a lot in Latin American regional and domestic airlines may be able to attest

    Since Dec 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    $466 and $583 per ounce.

    Queenstown prices eh! Only tourists can afford that, tho I have heard of $700 oz's on Waiheke Is. The hippie days long gone.

    Apparently 80% of New Zealanders are using meth.

    And thats just to get thru the work week. hahahahahahahahahaha
    The straighties must be shitting themselves reading that cooked stat.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    It's just a hop and a skip to track the sewer to source. Where does the ownership of my sewer change to Council? Could the inspectors track each outlet? Are there rules in that space? Drug usage by suburb? Street?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1588 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    They're literally taking the piss...
    What percentage traces of Viagra© and other prescription drugs and hormones were also present?
    Will no one think of the fish!?
    The bottom-feeders?
    The nibblers and bloaters...
    now become shoal-gazers!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    What percentage traces of Viagra© and other prescription drugs and hormones were also present?

    They can only report what they test for ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    that subset has a total consumption of 16kg a week

    Without knowing anything about how many people are using that, it's hard to figure out whether this is a lot or not very much at all. I expect mean use is a somewhat misleading statistic anyway, since it would be highly right skewed - the vast majority of users would hardly ever have it, and there would be a small hard core that use heaps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to BenWilson,

    Absolutely; from that figure, we can only extrapolate more generally to the population, not more specifically to any smaller subset of users.

    (On which note: the catchment area for Moa Point includes not just the entire Wellington CBD, the universities, and the hospital, but also the south coast from Island Bay eastwards; so it really is a stretch to conclude anything about cocaine use in Miramar from that. Might as well say it's all those bankers, as shown by the contamination levels of banknotes! )

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to linger,

    The hospital uses meth, and probably cocaine. The university could subtract the recorded hospital use out of the toilet data, because the university is full of clever cookies.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Homer, in reply to linger,

    the catchment area for Moa Point includes not just the entire Wellington CBD, the universities, and the hospital, but also the south coast from Island Bay eastwards

    I believe it’s the whole city except Karori and the far northern suburbs, which I think is also what that map shows (and also this one from the council). I grew up not far from the line where it starts going to Porirua instead and there was once a school visit to see it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Apparently 80% of New Zealanders are using meth.

    No,

    "the 39 testing sites cover 80% of the population – who between them account for 16kg of meth a week."

    Or one person flushed 16 kg of meth from in wellington airport, depending on where you get your news.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • dave stewart,

    Do some tests, crunch some numbers, out pops a result ...

    Assuming:
    4 million population.
    200 kg wastewater generated per person per day (1 litre = 1 kg for water).
    20 kg meth toxin in the national weekly wastewater (scaling 80% to 100% of population).

    We then have 0.000005 kg meth toxin per kiwi per week.
    Or 0.005 grammes per kiwi per week.
    Very different impression from presenting the same result in a different format.

    On the other hand, what about the shocking 5.6 billion kg wastewater generated nationally per week = about 300 billion kg per year.
    That's a lot of shit to sift through to find 20 kg!!!

    And all absolutely meaningless without robust error analysis data and credible control study. Have these been presented?

    Since Aug 2014 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to steven crawford,

    full of clever cookies.

    There's always been a 'home-bake' problem...
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I have a friend who made a batch of synthetic skunk tail stink while he was studying for his doctorate in physics. Victoria University went into commercial partnership and its now marketed in New Zealand as Skunkshot. Its patent covers numerous western countries including the US. Some US police forces us it in aerosol form to stink out Crack houses and other abandoned buildings. I think it would be very useful for warding off dangerous dogs while travelling in India.

    It was a remarkable Sublimation.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4311 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Reminds me, what's the status of therapeutic MDMA as an option for treatment of trauma? I seem to recall clinical trials on the subject. If it yielded positive results, I think therapuetic MDMA is the next destigmatisation cause for drug policy activists.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

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